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My Sanctuary

My Sanctuary

December 29, 2015

Dennis Jernigan

What is a sanctuary? A sanctuary is a place of refuge or safety. Some people find refuge in self-medication. Some people find refuge in living their lives to please others. Some people find refuge in their bank account. Some in fame. Some in sexual gratification outside God’s boundaries. All such sanctuaries eventually fail. How do I know? Because, to some degree, I have tried them all in the past and each left me feeling abandoned and alone in the wreckage left in their wakes. Thanks be to God I found THE Sanctuary.

He is Jesus. He is Emmanuel. He is God WITH us. Period. As I discovered the safest place in the universe - the presence of God - and put my faith in Him, I have never been disappointed. He has been and will be with me in the very midst of each and every situation and circumstance I encounter! My relationship with Him is the very essence of that sanctuary I always longed for. Relationship is the conduit of life. As I delve deeper into that relationship with God, I am overwhelmed at the layers and facets yet to be discovered! Here is a recent case in point.

On December 15th of this year, I underwent shoulder surgery. I thoroughly enjoy Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and look forward to blessing my children and grandchildren during the holidays. This year, due to the surgery and recovery period, the celebration would be quite different…or so I thought.

A few days following my surgery, I was finally able to shower and feel more human. It took me awhile to go through the process of bathing and dressing myself with only one functioning arm, which meant I was late to the family conversation in the music/worship room that morning. As I walked into the room feeling refreshed, little did I know the most true and real refreshment was about to take place.

We had already told the children to buy us no gifts and to expect none from us (this was for a variety of reasons, but, for us, the right thing to do). As I sat down, it became apparent that my children and their spouses had begun going around the room - one by one - and speaking blessings upon and over one another. My heart and psyche were met with an overwhelming wave of love and blessing as my children each began to speak to me what my life and existence meant to them. As the wave of love washed over me and Melinda, we cried tears of gratitude. I felt safe and secure - in spite of the tremendous physical pain and lack of physical gifts.

This was an extension of God’s presence. This was my sanctuary. Lack of earthly gifts could not make a dent in this treasure. Bitter cold could not begin to affect the warmth I felt in the deepest place of my heart. Circumstances of life could not dampen the joy flooding through my soul. In this moment of experiencing true sanctuary, I felt invincible and indestructible and cared for and BLESSED!

Christmas morning came and went…but the memory and solace of the sanctuary God provides through my family endures to this day - and rings true through the corridors of eternity. Let the winds blow. Let the rains come. Let the cold surround. I’m good. I have my Sanctuary…

Dennis Jernigan

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;

My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

Psalm 18:2 NASB



Since 1983 this Scripture has been important - vital - to my existence:

Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good,

For His lovingkindness is everlasting.

Let the redeemed of the LORD say so,

Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary

Psalm 107:1-2 NASB

A friend challenged me with it, saying he believed God would give me as song from meditating on it. And He did give me that song…and so much more than I had expected. As I sang this verse through the years from 1983 until 1988, the Lord began to build in me the attitude of gratitude: learning to thank God for and in and through any circumstance by learning to view each circumstance from HIS point of view.

Because of fear of what others might think of me, I never publicly acknowledged my deliverance from homosexuality from the moment it occurred - November 7, 1981 - until July of 1988! What happened to give me the courage to declare God’s work in my life publicly?

During a time of worship I was leading that July in 1988, I became so overwhelmed by the burden of not having told others specifically what God had done for me to illicit such deep longing to worship and thank God publicly that I stepped down from the platform and knelt at the altar. My good friend, Wayne, saw me there and knelt beside me. As he pressed me for the reason for my anguish, fear rose up in me and I began to weep. His words to me? “God’s Word says ‘let the redeemed of the Lord say so’. If you’re redeemed, Dennis, what does it matter what you are redeemed from?”

It was soon after that encounter that I began to share my story publicly - and the walls of fear that had surrounded me were razed to the ground and the lies of the enemy placed under my feet! And I learned that gratitude - the public declaration of what God has done for me - would not only usher others into that same freedom but would usher me into the deeper places of God’s presence I had been longing for!

Gratitude, to me, is like a springboard - a diving board - into the deeper places of God’s presence and nature. When I take a deep breath and jump on the end of that springboard, I am instantly lifted into the heights of awareness of God’s presence and simultaneously plunged into the depths of His character and essence - fully aware of His place in my existence in spite of my circumstances!

As a dad, I love being near my children. I love just being in their presence. I love blessing them. But as much as I love being with them and blessing them, I am transported to deeper levels of fellowship with one of my children when they express gratitude to me. It is as if they are leaning into my heart with their own heart…and I can’t get enough of it…can’t get close enough! And I am an earthly father…so how much more is this reality magnified by our perfect heavenly Father when we express gratitude to Him?

Take a big jump on the springboard of gratitude and plunge into a deeper awareness and a deeper level of intimacy with Father this Thanksgiving. And by the way, this principle works with people, too…

Dennis Jernigan

Watch and worship with the song Oh, Give Thanks at or download the mp3 at

How Do I Respond to the World Around Me Without Compromising Who I Am?

I’ve been through much fire in my life. Fire due to my own sin and fire due to my faith. Based on my own life experience with sin and viewing my experience and failure through the filter of God’s Word, I have come to believe firmly that God’s Word is true and that anything is possible with Him. Yet, when faced with the stance of that faith and the need to express that faith in love, how do I walk in peace while swimming against the stream of modern culture?

I have made things simple for myself. When faced with that very dilemma, I have come to the place of boiling things down to the lowest common denominator:


Luke 10:27 NASB

In any given situation, how do I love God in this moment? How do I love my neighbor in this moment? How do I love myself in this moment?


I cannot deny God in any situation…regardless of what anyone else says. How can my attitudes and actions and words bring honor to Him? I am called to ‘say so’…to declare what God has done for me. My story is my story! I own it and thank God for it. My life is a declaration that says, “Look what I went through, but look what God did!”


Who is your neighbor? Whomever I happen to be with! People ask me about my ministry - who I focus on. The answer is easy. I am minister to whomever I happen to be with…in spite of our differences. In spite of what they believe or don’t believe. We are not commanded to agree with anyone…but we are commanded to love! A great question in any given circumstance is ‘how can I lay down my life for this person?’ Laying down of life may mean disagreeing in love. Love stands its ground when it comes to the Truth. Standing alone IS an option…but like the three men in the fiery furnace of old, we are never really alone…are we?


My role in the Kingdom is to live out my existence according to Who God says I am. To do anything else is to walk in compromise. Every time I declare what God has done for me I simultaneously declare Who He is and who I am because of Who He is! I love myself by calling myself what my God calls me. My past does not define me. My circumstances do not define me. My temptations do not define me. The current culture does not define me. Only One defines me…and He is my Father.

“Remember, a dead fish can float downstream, but it takes a live one to swim upstream.”

W. C. Fields

Swimming upstream is not easy…but it means you are alive! It is the dead fish that goes with the flow! We, as new creations are called to be ministers of reconciliation. We are called to declare the Word of God. We are called to make disciples. We are called to live our lives abundantly in spite of our current culture. We are aliens in a strange land…indeed. Let us allow our lives to declare the power of God to affect change in the culture around us. You can always love God. You can always love your neighbor. You can always declare who and Whose you are.

Dennis Jernigan

Download the mp3 of the song I’VE BEEN THROUGH FIRE here:

Listen to/Sing along to I’VE BEEN THROUGH FIRE at:

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Dennis Jernigan and Melinda Jernigan-- what a joy your music has been to the body of Christ! My husband Brad just took this video at the 40th anniversary celebration of the Singing Men of Texas. Randy Gooch LaVaughn Gooch

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